What is now the Elise Chapin Wildlife Sanctuary was once the Walker family farm, where highly respected naturalist and Chattanooga Audubon Society founder Robert Sparks Walker was born in 1878. Walker formed the Chattanooga Audubon Society in 1944, with a vision of educating citizens on the importance of protecting the environment and respecting nature the way the area's Native Americans had for thousands of years.
Today, the society is the steward of three sanctuaries: Elise Chapin Sanctuary at Audubon Acres, Maclellan Sanctuary on Audubon Island, and David Gray Sanctuary on Audubon Mountain. Each offers a unique look into the history, wildlife, and natural splendor of the area as well as educational programs that help children and adults discover the area.
Color Me Rad stages 5K races that transform runners into mobile rainbows by launching cheerful barrages of colored cornstarch. Each color station along the racetrack flings a new, nontoxic pigment at passersby, who wear white shirts to enhance the chromatic onslaught's costuming effects. Brilliant neon-blue, green, purple, and yellow clouds dapple participants along the way, and the race concludes with a prismatic finish-line finale as sprinters chuck colors at each other in celebration. The race's noncompetitive credo shifts the emphasis from speed to silliness, and a portion of its proceeds go to local charities.
Upon registration, each runner collects a Color Me Rad T-shirt, sunglasses, sponsor gifts, and a race bib. Though they don't receive a gift packet, runners younger than 8 years old can sprint for free, provided they have a waiver signed by a guardian and won't give in to demands for gold from confused leprechauns.
At Tap 'N' Run, runners aren't out to claim the title of Fastest Runner. They're out to claim titles such as Best 'Stache, Celebrity Look-A-Like, or Largest Squad. That's because this 4K is a fun run in the truest sense: 21-and-over participants can run, walk, skip, or even potato-sack to the three beer stands set up along the course. They're given a 5-ounce brew at each and another 12-ounce bottle at the finish line. After using their finisher's medal to crack open that last beer (yes, it's also a bottle opener), they can head to the afterparty in hopes of claiming one of those race-day superlatives. One of the most sought-after awards is Most Unique Team Concept, as everyone's invited to dress up in costumes that at previous races have ranged from superheroes to ice-cream cones to runners running a race.
It's not every 5K run in which participants look like they've been tie-dyed by the end of it. But most runs are not this much fun either. As runners put one foot in front of the other during Color My Run, volunteers cover them with colorful dust, adding extra joy and a bit of silliness to an event where your finishing time isn't everything. That sense of joy also extends to the charitable recipient of each event as well, which is often a children's hospital.